All the puzzle pieces suddenly fit together.
It’s so clear why Travis is the way he is and why he had such a visceral reaction to seeing Theo again.
It’s like we’ve been trying to understand a story being told to us in a foreign language, but it was only after being given a translator that we could grasp the full depth of the complicated and nuanced dynamics between Travis, Michael, and Theo, as revealed on Station 19 Season 4 Episode 9 via multiple flashbacks.
First, though, we need to recognize the incredible performances from Jay Hayden and Barrett Doss.
The duo was given quite the tour de force as the besties were at odds for most of the hour.
From Travis’s point of view, Vic being with Theo was a betrayal of the highest caliber, something the firefighter wasn’t sure he could ever forgive.
Travis’s anger consumed him so much that it took a literal screaming match in public for Vic to convince him that she and Theo were no longer together — not that they really ever were in the first place.
And at first, Travis’s refusal to forgive Vic seemed childish.
She had no idea who Theo was when she met him, and upon learning who he was, she immediately broke things off.
Travis: I’m not over him. I’m not over Michael, not even a little, and I hate it. I hate that four years on and every morning feels just as painful and awful and confusing as the day he died. And I hate that I have to find a place to hide the mess every single day to even just be a person, and I hate knowing that no matter how well I hide it, the very next morning it’s going to be there waiting for me full force. And I don’t get how you do that. I don’t get how you just…
Travis: Did you even care about Ripley?
Travis: Did you? Because if you did, if you did honestly, if you did care about him…
Vic: Travis I cared about him… I care about him so much that I am scared I am never going to care about anyone like that again, and just hoping that someday there’s going to be another him is the only thing that’s kept from me being entirely consumed by the loss of him.
Travis: So what Theo is another him?
Vic: I don’t know. Maybe, I hoped, but as soon as I found out who he was, it was done because you were more important. I thought about your feelings immediately. I thought about your feelings exclusive, and the most painful part about all of this is you haven’t thought about mine at all. Do you realize that?
Vic was not in the wrong here, so why was Travis so mad?
Well, we got our answer, as making Travis’s grief all the more complicated and confusing was that Theo wasn’t just some inexperienced captain who got Michael killed; Theo was also Travis and Michael’s best friend.
And as shown through flashbacks, Theo was a huge part of the marrieds’ lives until Michael died in 2016.
Theo was there for all the significant milestones — first dates, proposals, celebrations — and probably would have been Michael’s best man in a retconned episode.
In short, as Travis told Vic, Theo was Michael’s Vic.
That sort of bond is forged through years of friendships, through ups and downs, highs and lows, trials and tribulations, so learning that Theo was responsible for Michael’s death was the final blow for Travis.
In one fell swoop, he lost his husband and his husband’s best friend and didn’t even really have his parents to lean on.
He was all alone in the world as he struggled to deal with Michael’s passing and never truly got over it.
Travis: What are you doing? What are you doing? Oh my god.
Michael: Travis Lee Montgomery…
Travis: Wait, wait, wait.
Michael: Will you…
Theo: Oh twist.
Travis: Wait, Michael Cooper Williams…
Michael: Will you…
Travis: On three.
Travis and Michael: One, two, three, will you marry me? Yes.
Long-time fans of the show know Michael’s death has always haunted Travis, but this installment further illuminated just how that trauma has stayed with him for years.
Travis may date around, but he’s been serious about anybody because he still hasn’t moved on from Michael.
He can’t let himself go there emotionally, either because he’s not ready or doing so would mean moving on from his deceased husband.
That’s why he’s held onto his anger at Theo for so long because it allows him to keep part of Michael alive and with him, instead of trying to forgive the man he once considered a good friend.
Because if Travis ever did that, it would mean that Michael is truly gone and is never coming back.
Travis isn’t delusional; he knows that Michael is dead. Still, Vic was right in saying that if Travis ever lets his anger go, it would mean letting Michael go for good.
And Travis can’t bring himself to do that, and until he can, he’ll never be able to open his heart to anybody as he did with Michael.
On the flip side, though, Vic has tried to do just that since losing Ripley.
She and Travis differ in that way, as Vic has always been one to look forward rather than back.
Travis: Theo was Michael’s you. He and Michael, they went through academy together. They were probies together, roommates. Theo was a legacy kid, so he rose up the ladder faster than Michael or I, but we were best friends, the three of us. And then suddenly, Michael died, and it was Theo’s fault.
Vic: Must have sucked to go through that without your best friend.
Travis: You know I hate this weird part after a friendship fight, after it’s done where you both kinda feel icky and awkward and not back to normal with each other.
Vic: Yeah in a relationship you just have sex.
Travis: Vic, for the millionth time, I’m not going to have sex with you.
Vic: Why not?
She rebounded quickly after Ripley’s death with Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jackson, and even after that relationship ended, she’s still been willing to put herself out there.
She’s gotten some flak for her approach to grief — even before Travis called her out this episode — but she’s always been pretty vocal that how she mourns and who she chooses to date is no one else’s business.
Vic does what works for her, and what that is is trying to find someone she can one day love as much as she loved Ripley.
She’s not trying to replace Ripley, though.
It’s that hope of finding someone else, of loving again, that keeps her going, the only thing that keeps her from being overwhelmed by Ripley’s death.
So, Vic looks toward the future, while Travis is stuck in the past.
They are different approaches to grief, but just because Vic’s way is different than Travis’s doesn’t make hers any less valid.
That was what she was trying to do with Theo: find someone she could share her life with, but upon learning who Theo was, she broke things off.
It was a messy situation all around, and fortunately, by the end, the best friends were able to work through their issues, helped along by the very on the nose medical emergencies of the week.
The repeated overdoses by the childhood friends and eventual death of one of them was a little too obvious for me, but it did help Travis get through his thick skull everything Vic had been trying to tell him.
Travis: Tell me. Tell me what happened. They won’t tell me what happened. What? Theo, tell me. Please, tell me what happened.
Theo: I thought the wind was upslope from the east, so I told him it was safe to shelter in place. I’m sorry.
Theo: Travis, you know I love him. You know Michael was my brother.
Theo: It was a mistake. I miscalculated, and I never… Travis, you know how dangerous the job is. It could have been anybody. Oh, Travis, come on. We got to go through this together. Come on, I need you.
Travis: Please get out of the house.
Theo: Travis, please.
Travis: You gotta get out. Please get out of my house.
Sometimes you need to see something from a different lens or through the eyes of someone else before you understand it, so if we had to endure the repetitive nature of the overdoses, then it was somewhat worth it.
It was preferable than Travis being so stubborn that he ended a four-year friendship with Vic over a miscommunication.
But as they say, all’s well that ends well. At least it is for Travis and Vic, but it’s unclear what happens to Theo from here.
His character arc came to a natural end by the time the credits started rolling, but it wouldn’t be the strangest thing the series has ever done if he comes back at some point.
For now, the series has wrought all the emotion and drama it can from Theo’s introduction, so let us say goodbye to the character, who wasn’t the bad guy that Travis believes him to be.
Theo helping Jack comfort Marcus was just one of the multiple examples that show Theo isn’t just the villain in Travis’s story.
Yes, Theo made a mistake, a fatal mistake that ended Michael’s life, but he’s also more than that, just like we all are.
So, farewell, Theo. May happier times lie ahead, though they very rarely do on this series.
Some stray thoughts:
This episode was very Travis and Vic-centric, but Jack did have a brief subplot over Marcus being afraid whenever his father figure goes to work. Marcus’s fears are valid, as Jack’s job can be dangerous, but Jack, with Theo’s help, going out of his way to quell them was sweet.
Vic insisted that Travis was still into Emmett. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do like them as a possible couple, even more so than before because now they have a solid foundation built on friendship. Plus, Emmett isn’t afraid to call Travis out when he’s wrong. There is a lot to like there.
Travis leaving a voicemail for Michael was heartbreaking, all the more so because we got to see so many of their swoon-worthy couple moments through the years. That double proposal almost had me in tears just because we know how things ended.
So what did you think, Station 19 Fanatics?
Will Travis ever be able to move on from Michael?
Are you shocked by the reveals from the flashbacks?
Have we seen the last of Theo?
Don’t forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, remember you can watch Station 19 online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.